Wednesday, February 2, 2000

Bill Bradley Rally 2/2/00

I attended the Bradley for President rally at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village on 2/2/00. The rally was scheduled to start at 12:30 pm so I arrived at 11:45 am to get a good spot. I ended up about three standing rows back to the right of the podium and had an excellent view of the kickoff to the March 7 primary.
    A young man from NYU Journalism school interviewed me. I explained why I prefer Bradley of the current crop of candidates from both parties. It was interesting to see the results of the preparation that goes into a staged event. This was the beginning of the New York campaign and the stage was crammed with dozens of local politicos and celebrities. Many seemed truly surprised to see the turnout of several hundred that spilled out into the street and around the block. I was notified by and noticed in the last week that the event was not overly publicized, I think by choice. Even only noted the location in the 24 hours preceding the event. You want the news media there of course but you want to fill the hall with supporters, not just anybody. I noticed someone faint about five minutes into Bradley’s speech and I couldn’t help but wonder if this a classic political prank to distract everybody.
    Don’t Mess with Bill was the campaign theme and among the other tunes played by a small jazz combo at the event. Emcee Ron Silver did a good job kicking off the program at about 12:45.  Former Knick teammates Dave Debusschere and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe spoke. Dave emphasized the character of the man he has known for 35 years. Earl did too. Earl was walking with a cane and it isn’t known what “Pearl” is illing with. Bill’s wife Ernestine spoke lovingly of her guy and it was genuine. Like Kissinger used to say to Nixon when they were making a statement regarding our reasons for a geopolitical action, it had the added advantage of being true.
    Patti Smith rocked the house with The People Have the Power. I thought of my friend Gary who was Patti's biggest follower in the late 70s.
    Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge [Mrs. Jimmy Breslin] spoke and many other Manhattan pols whose names I didn’t write down. Shopper saver and cable channel movie reviewer Ed “Judge” Koch made us raise our right hands and pledge to take 10 people to the polls on Primary Day to vote for Bill Bradley. Ed introduced Bradley. Slightly ironic as Koch was a Gore man in ‘88 [Gore finished third]. Actually a short rich banker had already introduced Bradley to the stage, so quickly that it took us all by surprise. Bradley took in the applause to confetti thrown by myself and other from long, cardboard tubes. Then Ed took the mike and introduced him again, introducing him to the microphone to start his speech.

    Bradley touched on familiar themes of character, health care for kids, and the prospect of a government with a surplus on its hands. I was surprised when he demanded an apology by Gore boosters to Sen. Bob Kerrey for the shameful remarks directed at Kerrey in New Hampshire. The remarks are so ludicrous that I hardly believe them, but do smack of the level that Clinton/Gore historically have sunk to. I was also surprised because this is the kind of elbow a lot of us have been waiting for, for Bradley to throw at an opponent who has had his way so far with personal fouls.
Bradley touched on themes of inclusion, in contrast to the mostly young and white crowd.

    He told two anecdotes. I would lay off Einstein jokes but the LBJ bit is a winner. Bradley noted that Dave Debusschere was a few inches taller and it would be politcally poor judgment to have his picture taken next to a taller man. This reminded him of the time he was in the White House in 1964, East Wing or West wing he couldn’t recall [someone from stage remarked “You'll be back there!!”], as a member of the U.S. basketball gold medal champions. People were lining up to shake hands and get their picture taken with LBJ. Wrestler and LBJ, CLICK, swimmer and LBJ, CLICK. Then the 6’6” Bradley shook hands with the 6’3” president. Bradley anticipated the photo but LBJ told him to keep moving.
    The Einstein bit: Einstein is teaching a grad course for the second year in a row, same students. “Professor Einstein,” a student noted, “These questions are the same as last year’s!” “Well,” replied the enigmatic genius, “make sure you give different answers.” This was meant to be an allegory to Bradley being able to think up new answers to old problems that might contradict his own positions of years ago, because while problems may be similar, yesterday’s solution may not work. Pity the doctrinaire, the ideologue, locked in to giving the same rehearsed answers. While Bradley has his stock answers, you can sense that as he gives a reasoned response the other half of his brain is still debating the issue. He is a man of conscience.


As I watched Al Gore brag to his cheering audience after he won New Hampshire he said, I heard what you said you wanted, and I told the country what you told me to say. I'm paraphrasing but it's very close to what I saw on C-SPAN. I think that used to be called pandering, not leadership. I don't want a leader to comfortably confirm my beliefs. We'd still have slavery if the system didn't get shaken up now and then. I want to be challenged to excel. I want the cesspool of campaign finance, in a fouler state than the Paris sewers of the 19th century, to be cleaned up. Money is influence is access is power. That's why Bradley [and McCain] are the two most dangerous men out there today.
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1 comment:

arif khan said...

Could not be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!